Thursday, September 18, 2008


It was at the beginning of the 7th grade that I began to spend a lot of time listening to music. That's when I consider the soundtrack to really begin.

Prior to that I'd hear what my sister was playing, or records my mom listened to, but that was their music, not mine. When the Beatles became a sensation, my sister bought me an itchy, cheap Beatles wig that I would wear while I bopped and sang along to She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand while sweating profusely because that wig had no ventilation. Those were sort of my songs but I hadn't yet gotten hooked on rock and roll - just the Beatles.

In discovered KRLA and KHJ in the fall of '66 and became hard-core. My clock radio had sleep button and every night it would be set to play for a set amount of time - as long as I could get away with - before shutting off. The radio always shut down before I did. Dick Biondi was KRLA's night shift DJ and it was him I'd listen to as he spun the best-selling records of that period.

Was the music truly good back then or is it just because of the memories and feelings it evokes? Both, I think. I can still remember the first five records I bought in that "new era":

Cherish - The Association
Poor Side of Town - Johnny Rivers
Walk Away Renee - The Left Banke
Dandy - Hermans Hermits
Little Man - Sonny and Cher

I thought Cherish was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard and I would play it over and over as it got scratchier and scratchier. Everything about that song was simply perfect. For a long time, it was my favorite song. Small wonder I dedicated it to my first real crush..

Poor Side of Town was a close second. I'd wear down the grooves on that one, too.

For a while I wasn't sure who sang Walk Away Renee. Even though the label said "The Left Banke," that seemed like such a weird name to me that I didn't think that could be the name of a group. It must have been referring to something else? It wasn't the label name, though. That was "Smash." A group was supposed to be named after something, like The Animals, or The Rolling Stones, but what was a Left Banke? You can tell I was not very geographical or worldly.

Walk Away Renee reminds me of Rene Sunabe, mainly because of the shared names - except she spelled hers with one instead of two e's at the end. Rene was one of the few people who was shorter than me, haha.

The 7th grade was when I really began to notice girls, so naturally I put myself in the place of the singers on these recordings. Since I had no car at the time, I would close the doors and sing along to these songs in my room. My poor parents.

As for Dandy and Little Man, I liked these for their melodies, rather than point of view. I bet you don't even remember these two songs, do you? I just played Little Man on my Rhapsody music service since it's been ages since I last heard it. Yup, sounds exactly like I remembered! And it made me wonder why I liked it so much.

Takeo Hirai said the Supremes were boss. Stop in the Name of Love was his favorite; he'd walk around singing the title, putting one hand up in the air when he sang "stop," while the rest of us either ignored or threatened him. Takeo, or Taco as we called him, was my good buddy in Mrs. Capps' 6th grade class, and in the 7th grade as well but then he moved away and I never saw him again.

I have fond memories of junior high - maybe that's why the songs seemed so good, or maybe it was vice versa. There was the Beach Boy's Good Vibrations, a song that brings to mind slot car racing at Revell Raceway on La Tijera in Inglewood, as well as drooling over the slot car items behind the counter at Karl's Toys and Hobbies in the Crenshaw Shopping Center. Us slot car nuts all wondered, was the Globe motor that was advertised in the slot car magazines really as good as the ad said? It cost as much or more than a complete car. It was available only via mail-order from some place in Georgia. It was so expensive none of us could afford to find out. Good Vibrations was also the song for thinking about girls on the beach, except I hardly went to the beach so my visions of this were mainly from the tv.

The Lovin' Spoonfuls Rain on the Roof, Good Vibrations, Cherish, Poor Side of Town and Walk Away Renee comprised my special suite of songs that I'd sing all serious and everything, and dedicate to that special crush I had back then. I sure must have looked dopey. Thankfully no videos or hidden recording devices were around!

From Look Through My Window to Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies to Snoopy Versus the Red Baron to Reach Out I'll Be There to Hazy Shade of Winter (I could go on and on but I'll stop here) - I loved them all and they took me to another world far away from everything else.

That was just the beginning. The soundtrack just kept getting better and better.

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